In golf there is always a time when you know you should play a certain shot and yet you really don't feel comfortable about it. What should you do?
How many times have you stood on the fairway, hand hovering over your bag, knowing that you probably should play that high shot that cuts slightly through the wind...but you don't feel quite comfortable with it for no clear reason? And somehow a low shot with a different club is more appealing at that particular moment? Or perhaps you know that you should be using a four iron for that distance, but it doesn't feel right?
There are many different variations to this dilemma and I'm sure we have all experienced them from time to time. And the club or shot which concerns you as a golfer can change from day to day, week to week, month to month or year to year.
I have experienced it myself in extreme forms - not feeling comfortable with woods off the fairway for an entire season (ALL my woods; unable to feel that I could get them off the ground, but happy with them off the Tee, for some inexplicable reason!); and the following season not feeling comfortable with my irons (ALL of them, knowing that I could shank every shot with an iron with uncanny consistency!); and then as a feeling of comfort returned with both woods and irons, whether off Tee of fairway, and enjoying a feeling of relief flooding over me at the thought of all those extra shots I knew I could play, only to find that short irons had become uncomfortable...WHAT NOW?!
As you can tell, I'm an "all or nothing" kind of person, and some of you will relate to these types of experiences. Thank goodness, as my golf has got better (both technically and mentally) I no longer have seasons of concern with particular types of shots; Instead, it's just a vague feeling now and again that I'm just not comfortable with the shot which would be the best TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, to play in a particular situation.
In fact, the troubles I used to experience had become such a vague memory that I had almost forgotten what it felt like. What jogged my mind was going out to play a few holes with a friend, a good player, and him saying that he felt that he was being a chicken...that he should be playing a particular shot but wasn't comfortable with it, and so was hitting a different one instead. He chose his club, made a great shot, the ball pitched in the middle of the fairway, in perfect position for his second onto the green. And yet, there he was, unhappy; In his mind he was a "chicken" for not having taken the shot he felt would have been better technically.
In my mind he was both clever and brave and had made a great decision. He took the club he felt confident with, and played the shot he KNEW would work for him on that day, in those circumstances. He has the ability to manipulate his shots, to create many different shots and went with what he felt most confident with.
So why didn't he feel he had played the right shot? These are a couple of reasons here. One is that he didn't want other people to think he was a chicken. He felt they'd know he had "chickened out". Well, in my mind that's a terrible reason to worry. Your aim in each and every shot in golf is to get the ball where you want it to go and it doesn't matter how you get it there and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. But most of us do worry what others will think; To seek approval is a natural instinct, BUT it doesn't pay to be allowing this emotion to take over when you're playing golf. You have to learn to focus on the logistics of the task in hand and banish competing emotions from your mind.
A second reason why he didn't feel he had played the right shot is that he was fighting frustration which had been building for some time; he had been getting increasingly more uncomfortable with those types of shots and the more he thought about it, the more unsure he was as he hovered over the shot...and yet he KNEW he could play that shot, he SHOULD be able to play that shot, and he KNEW that he should just take the club, make the shot and conquer his fears and frustrations...and so in not doing this he was a chicken (IN HIS MIND, NOT IN MINE).
To have played that shot in that state of mind would have been totally wrong. Golf is a game of confidence; the ball goes where your mind and your emotions are going. If one bit of you is thinking one thing, whilst another bit is thinking something different, the golf ball will also "be in two minds" and its flight will reflect it. Your frustrations and fears will be transmitted through your breathing, your grip, your tempo, rhythm and swing....and the ball will go where you in reality, deep down, EXPECTED the ball to go.
My friend, when we played, made the right choice, the bravest and cleverest choice. He played the shot he was confident with. This is all that matters. To play the shot which you are most confident will work is the one to choose, every time. It doesn't matter if it is the right shot technically speaking in a perfect world, if you see what I mean.
Another thing which many golfers do when they have lost confidence with a particular shot is to swap clubs; they buy a new toy! And sometimes this works. If you expect it to work for you it probably will...at least for a short period of time...and a short period of time is sometimes enough to regain your confidence with those shots. This, however, is not the best solution. Those clubs you had before DID work and they still do. It is all in your mind.
So what should you do when your confidence is falling in relation to a particular shot or club?
You could go to the range and practice until you get comfortable once again. If this works, great, you've cracked it. If it doesn’t work or your confidence doesn't transfer onto the course, play a different shot which you are comfortable with. Don't play that shot whilst you feel uncomfortable with it. Leave that shot "in the bag" until the memory of fear and frustration has faded; then, one day, (fairly soon) you'll be on the course, you'll see that shot in your mind's eye, pull out the club and hit it perfectly once again.
The thing to avoid is making yourself play that shot (for fear of being called a "chicken") when you aren't confident, thereby creating more and more "BAD" shots to store up in your mind, thereby building the belief that you cannot hit that shot, creating an expectation that you cannot do it, and so on.
In golf, confidence is the key.
Roseanna Leaton, specialist in golf hypnosis cds and hypnosis mp3 downloads.
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